'Fahrenheit' will heat up Brit tellies

LONDON — Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ will air on Blighty’s Channel 4 following a bidding war with the BBC in a deal believed to be worth more than $1.5 million.

C4 is to screen the doc in early January in the midweek primetime slot it devotes to factual movies.

The web has bought other high-profile docs for the slot, including “Super Size Me,” “Capturing the Friedmans” and “Spellbound.”

Launching C4’s winter sked Wednesday, program topper Kevin Lygo said ABC’s hit drama “Desperate Housewives” will bow on C4 in early January in a 10 p.m. weekday slot.

In a separate development, C4 deputy chairman Barry Cox, speaking at a London conference, indicated the outfit is poised to seek public coin to prevent it from becoming “more and more commercial.”

Although the web is performing well financially, C4 is concerned that as competition intensifies with the spread of digital, its public service remit could be undermined unless it secures different funding.

There have been suggestions that it might merge with Five, the U.K.’s fifth terrestrial channel, but CEO Andy Duncan seems less keen on this option than his predecessor, Mark Thompson.

One possibility is that C4 could bid for money made available if the government decides to greenlight a pubcaster recently proposed by regular Ofcom.

All broadcasters, including U.S. outfits, could made a case for funding available for the Public Service Publisher that would, if approved, broadcast on many platforms, including broadband and mobile telephony.

“Channel 4 has hitherto been rather sniffy about the idea of public money, but we will take a more serious look than we have to date,” Cox said.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more